Tattoo health issues and how to minimize these health risks

Tattoo health issues and how to minimize these health risks

Tattoo health issues are real. When Cate Gallinger sought to get a Sclera tattoo, she never anticipated that it could go horribly wrong and even risk losing her eye. She has to undergo a series of expensive corrective surgeries over time to reverse the process.

Once thing is for sure, her eye will never feel the same again.

Cate gallinger
 Image source: Facebook/ Cate Gallinger

Melanie Grifith had the tattoo that bore the name of her husband of 24 years, Antonio Banderas removed a year after they broke up in 2014.




Angelina Jolie had the Billy Bob tattoo removed after she broke up with Billy Bob Thornton. She replaced the tattoo with the coordinates of her father’s home.

Fifty Cent had many of his tattoos removed because they were interfering with the make-up, taking too long to hide and thus jeopardizing his current acting venture.

Other multiple celebrities have had their tattoos removed or altered using laser tattoo removal technology after these tattoos lost sense and meaning to them.

Why is everyone in a hurry to remove their tattoos and why are more others in a hurry to get inked?

Getting inked may have long-term consequences beyond just having to live with your ex-girlfriend’s name on your bicep for decades

– Tia Ghose, Live Science

According to, more than 14% of Americans have tattoos of some sort, translating to a staggering 45 million people. The average spend on these tattoos has been estimated to be over 1.65 billion dollars!

The growing popularity of inking, fueled by the pop culture shows that the inking trend won’t slow down soon.

– Mik Thobo- Carlsen, Huffington Post

Tattoos, if not done right, pose some serious health risks. Luckily tattoo health issues could be minimized or eliminated if the right kind of procedure is followed.

This article seeks to investigate everything to do with tattoos types, tattoo health issues,how to choose a good tattoo artist, taking care of tattoos, tattoo removal,  and for the business-oriented person, how to set up a tattoo shop.

How tattoos are done

 ** A tattoo is a permanent mark or design made on your skin with pigments inserted through pricks into the skin’s top layer. Typically, the tattoo artist uses a hand-held machine that acts much like a sewing machine, with one or more needles piercing the skin repeatedly. With every puncture, the needles insert tiny ink droplets.
 The process — which is done without anesthetics — causes a small amount of bleeding and slight to potentially significant pain. **

Risks associated with tattoos

there are a number of risks that are associated with getting a tattoo that someone should know about before they get one.

The risk of skin infections

this is a very common risks. When getting a tattoo, it is important to note that you would be introducing foreign substances into your body. This could trigger reactions, leading to ugly skin infections.

ugly tattoo

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MRI Complications

Tattoos may cause burning, swellings or even bleeding when conducting MRI exams. The image quality could also be distorted by these tattoo pigments.

Allergic reactions

Itchiness around the area you received the tattoo could occur even years after you received your tattoo. This is something you can easily treat by applying creams such as this tattoo aftercare salve available on Amazon.
tatto salve

keloids and granulomas

These are ugly bumps on the skin resulting from overgrowth of scar tissue around the tattoo area. If you experience such, you may try this transparent scar sheeting, available on amazon.

Types of tattoos and tattoo designs

Before you walk into some dingy tattoo parlor to request a tattoo on your body, it is important to understand two things; WHY you want a tattoo and the TYPE of tattoo you want.

Why you need a tattoo could be varied. Most people get tattoos to appease their partners or spouses. Others get these tattoos to commemorate some point in their lives while others get tattoos because they think it’s the “cool” trend at the moment. Whatever your reason, you need to know the kind of tattoo you need so that you can be better informed on the tattoo idea to get.

Traditional tattoos

traditional tattoo
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This styles is old (Stemming from the 1700s) and indigenous to Indian communities that were living in USA at the time of Columbus and our favorite Pirate, Captain John Cook. These sailors soon started inking their bodies as a way of commemorating and marking their voyage across the world. The style would later shape up and become more contemporary with the introduction of colors.

Realism tattoos

realism tattoo
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Classic realism was period that was acclaimed to have given the birth to modern art. Artists created real impressions of what they saw, faces of people and the world from their perspective. The trend took off in tattoo world as well and it was not strange to see people having very realistic faces of their favorite celebrities or personalities tattooed.

Water color tattoos

water color tatto
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This is certainly one the most popular and most expensive form of tattoo design in the current age. Tattoo artists create the impression of canvas painting on human bodies.

Related: 100 cool water color tattoo ideas for men

Tribal tattoos

tribal tatoo
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This is also one of the oldest form of tattoos, used by the aboriginal tribes since the beginning of time. They are mostly done in black ink and portray specific messages depending on their tattoo pattern origin.

 New and neo traditional tattoos

neo traditional tattoo
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New school depicts the form of tattoos that are abstract and relate to what the current generation is facing. For instance, It is not a wonder to find tattoos of Spiderman or transformers among youth. Neo traditional tattoo styles have simply mixed up the traditional forms with more sassy, modern and colorful approach.

Japanese tattoos

japanese tattoo
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These tattoos are very intense, often covering the better part of a person’s body and they tell stories relating to Japanese culture, merchandising and folklore.

Black work tattoos

black work tattoo
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Black work tattoos implies the kind of tattoo work done based solely on black ink and there is no limit to creativity and extent of usage of this kind of tattoo work.

How to prepare for a tattoo

after you have identified which tattoo you want to receive, it is time to get one. There are a number of things you would need to consider before committing to this;

A tattoo is permanent

Tattoo inks are permanent marks on your skin. It is therefore important that you choose CAREFULLY the kind of tattoo you want. Do not be swayed by peer pressure as this may push you to get something that you will regret years later. Tattoos that have a special meaning and purpose to you are the best examples of tattoos.

If you do not want to get a permanent one just yet, you may purchase fake/temporary ones tattoos and see how they look on you.

The tattoo you get is as good as the artist behind it

Just like good artists make good songs, tattoo artists are also very differently talented and varied. Just because someone can wield a tattoo gun does not necessarily imply they are good at what they do. Considering that the tattoo will be on YOUR body probably for the rest of your life, it would be important to check out the portfolio of these artists. If you can find someone they have already worked on, that would be even better as it will allow you to inspect the work done first-hand. Take your time.

Do not go cheap on the tattoo

Being cheap has never been a good thing, certainly not in tattooing business. You need the artist to feel comfortable enough to work on your detail without feeling the urge to hurry it up and serve another client just because you cheapened out on the tattoo. Pay them well if they are worth it and you will enjoy the results

Write down what you need the artist to spell

DO NOT trust that the artist will spell out correctly what you need them to tattoo on your body. Things happen and mistakes occur. There is nothing as embarrassing as carrying a misspelt tattoo on your body for the rest of your life. Write down what you want them to tattoo, even if it’s simple enough. Have them sketch that first using delible ink before you approve. There is a less chance of mistakes occurring this way.

Getting a tattoo is a painful experience

Hate needles? Then probably tattoos aren’t for you. Some tattoo parlors offer anesthetic to their clientele but most do not. Be prepared. It could be the most painful moment of your life. Depending on the kind of tattoo you will be receiving, you can expect at least 20 minutes of blissful pain.

Tattoo after care

After you have received your tattoo, you will need to take good care of it. This is an essential and critical stage as it affects greatly how your tattoo forms and heals.

Listen to your artist

You trusted the tattoo artist enough to allow them give you the tattoo. Trust that they possess good advice on how you can take care of your tattoo effectively. Consider the advice as a sort of warranty. In most cases, you would need to visit your artist several times for touch ups. It is important that you listen and do as they advise you to do. Most artists have a lot of experience in this and they also want to see your tattoo well healed so that they can add that to their portfolio.

Do not remove covering for 6 hours

Naturally, after the tattoo is done, there will be some sort of raw wound. The artist cleans it up with a disinfectant, applies ointment and covers the tattoo for a while. The covering is designed to protect the wound from bacteria which can penetrate the broken skin and cause irritations or skin infections.

Tattoo artists differ on the method to use when covering the wound. There are two main ones; using a thick wound bandage or using plastic wraps. Those who use the bandages state that it allows the tattoo to breathe whilst preventing bacteria from accessing the broken skin. Those who use the plastic wrapping argue that it is easy to apply and remove without having it stick to the skin whilst preventing bacteria from accessing the skin as well.

It does not matter which covering they use. Just remember to follow their instructions keenly if you want the tattoo to heal properly.

Remove the covering carefully

After 6 hours, it would be safe to remove the covering. B careful when doing so. You do not want to rip off parts of your skin.

How to wash the tattoo

Do not wash the tattoo directly under running water as this may cause strain on the tattoo. Splash water over it using your hands. Use lukewarm water when washing. You can also use an antimicrobial soap. Do not use a clothing or sponge as this may have some hidden bacteria. After washing, pat the tattoo with a soft towel to dry. Do not rub on the tattoo. Leave it exposed for a few minutes after this to allow it to breathe.

READ: 3 great ways on how to grow and protect your beautiful hair

Using ointment

When your tattoo dries, it may feel a little ‘stretched’ or tight. Just apply some ointment. Ensure that the ointment you apply is purely organic as introducing chemicals onto the fresh tattoo could prove to be disastrous.

Apply ointment for a few days  (2-5) until the tattoo starts to peel away. Tattoo Goo is a perfect product for this. Keep washing your tattoo until you have healed completely and the scab has disappeared.

What to avoid when taking care of new tattoo

Fitting clothing

The basic reason is that tight clothing will be abrasive to the tattoo. The most important reason to avoid tight clothing is that as tattoos heal, they seep in excess ink and plasma. This may cause the clothing to stick to the tattoo if it’s too tight. Tight clothing also affects the good oxygen supply your tattoo really needs at this stage.

Avoid direct sunlight

Sun rays cause the tattoos to blister, bleach and this could seriously affect the pigmentation of your skin. Keep it covered until its completely healed.

Do not soak the tattoo

Avoid swimming pools and bathtubs where your tattoo could get soaked. Too much water could draw the ink out, damaging the appearance of the tattoo.

Do not scratch your tattoo

Nails could introduce harmful bacteria to your tattoo and this could be detrimental to the healing process.

Avoid working out

If tattoos are near joints, do not overwork them as this could make them take too long to heal. The movement may also cause skin breakages.

After care products

These products are really important because they speed up the process of healing and prevent infections. These products could be soaps or cleansers.

Soap products options

The important element is to have fragrance-free soap. Natural soaps work better. The following soaps have been highly recommended. You can order any of these soaps on Amazon.
Neutrogenatattoo health issues This soap removes excess oil without clogging pores, a very important element when your skin is healing.



Dove fragrance free soap

This is unscented and hypoallergenic soap which implies that it is unlikely to cause allergic reactions of any kind. It is the perfect soap to use on your tattoo.

Cleansers and moisturizers.

Use fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers as they will help relieve your skin from dryness and that ‘tight’ feeling.


What if I get an infection?

The best way forward would be to call your tattoo artist immediately. Some form of infections might not be threatening. For instance, it is normal to have some little ink seep out when washing. Reddening of the tattoo is normal. Being sore and itchy is also normal. If you are going to buy ointment other than ones recommended here or by your tattoo artist, kindly consult a doctor. Read on to learn more about health issues associated with tattoos.

Tattoo health Issues

As stated on many events, tattoo health issues are real. It is important for someone to understand the potential health issues that are associated with getting a tattoo. We have covered some of these issues in this article, including keloids, skin infections, granulomas and MRI complications.

FDA notes that a very common problem among people who receive tattoos is the satisfaction problem. Most people get excited about getting a tattoo at the beginning and when the satisfaction fades away, they seek to remove these tattoos. the permanent nature of these tattoos makes it difficult for this to happen, making most people live dissatisfied lives because of marks they have on their bodies.

One of the reasons for this dissatisfaction is that at the time when someone got the tattoo, their skin may have been smooth, soft and young. As people age, the skin sag, lose lustre and the tattoo gets distorted, making it lose the attraction it had. They can’t wait to get rid of it.

Other possible tattoo health issues include the adverse reaction these tattoos have on people. in some instances, the ink used in these tattoos reacts violently with the skin of people, leading to very ugly marks, skin infections, blisters, wounds and more complicated diseases.

Tattoo inks are largely unregulated and likely to spread ink which can bring about blood-borne diseases. According to an FDA report, there was a multi-state bacterial outbreak to contaminated tattoo inks. Despite these warnings, it is important to note that tattoo inks are considered cosmetics and thus are allowed into the market without much consideration of the possible implications and oversight.

Renowned scientists conducted a well detailed study on the microbial status contained in tattoo inks with a comparison of over 58 ink labels and published their studies. You can access that study here.

Other journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine also published the various complications that are related to tattoos in this article. From this study, contamination could have occurred at different points of the ink production process.

More and more research is still being conducted to ascertain the exact risks associated with tattoos.

Tattoo removal

A plastic surgeon or a dermatologist should be the only person allowed to remove your tattoo. It is a complicated process that is usually engaging, painful, expensive and tedious. This will minimize any possible tattoo health issues that may crop up.

Its important to consult your doctor before undertaking this procedure.